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Fourth EAS congress shows how important it has become for orthodontics

The fourth EAS congress took place in Turin in Italy. (Image: Mauro Calvone)

TURIN, Italy: The fourth European Aligner Society (EAS) congress, held from 11 to 13 May at the Centro Congressi Lingotto in Turin, was a remarkable event. Attended by 1,095 people from 67 countries, it was the society’s largest event. In addition, 22 exhibitors made the trip to Italy to present their products.

Travel and other pandemic-related restrictions somewhat limited attendance of EAS’s events in Malta and Portugal. The lifting of restrictions has been a relief for many who really value in-person education, people like Dr Dorottya Frank, an orthodontist from Hungary, who tries to attend as many events as she can, especially to improve her knowledge of aligner treatment, and Drs Maria Soledad Urzua and Carol Weinstein, both from Chile, who come to meetings in Europe once a year. They were really pleased with the congress and believe that Europe has gained tremendous momentum in aligner education and development, surpassing the US, in their opinion.

EAS President Dr Tommaso Castroflorio and EAS Scientific Chairman Dr Francesco Garino gave the opening addresses. The EAS congress is held to celebrate the progress made in the development of aligner technology, which has changed the lives of millions of people around the world, and EAS members represent more than 60 countries. Dr Castroflorio was, justly so, very happy with the high attendance of this fourth congress, compared with just over 300 participants at EAS’s first congress in Vienna in Austria in 2016. To him, “EAS has become a platform where researchers and clinicians can start new initiatives, exchange their experiences and learn from one another.” He added: “It is only through this spirit of collaboration that we can move the boundaries of orthodontics and of aligner orthodontics forward.” He thanked the presenters having accepted the invitation by EAS to share their experience and knowledge with the attendees, giving them inspiration to advance to “the next level” of aligner orthodontics, which to him can only be achieved by collaborating with one another. In the spirit of sustainability, Dr Castroflorio invited attendees to download the United Nations’ AWorld app, a guide on living in a more sustainable way, with less paper and less plastic.

On the first day, attendees could participate in pre-congress courses and workshops, and for the first time, a dedicated programme was offered for the practice team. “Without the staff there is no practice!” said Dr Garino. One of the workshops was not specific to the dental field, but beneficial to all attendees. In it, Dr Ben Bernstein, a psychologist also known as “The Stress Doctor”, shared his unique approach to recognising and reducing stress to improve performance and health.

On the same day, 12 aligner companies held workshops in different sessions, giving participants the opportunity to attend as many as they wished. These workshops are always a favourite because participants can learn about new technologies in more depth, and explore how to put them to use in daily practice.

Satellite symposia and plenary sessions by 29 speakers made up the programme for the second and third days. These covered the congress topics of 3D diagnosis, biomechanics, open and deep bite, 3D printing and in-office aligners, auxiliaries and aligners, early treatment, orthodontic surgery, artificial intelligence (AI), multidisciplinary treatment, orthodontic and restorative care and digital planning, and the future of aligner orthodontics.

Among these presentations was Dr Ravindra Nanda’s one on materials, biomechanics, 3D printing and temporary anchorage devices (TADs) in aligner treatments. It is a given that you cannot move teeth and apply force without biomechanics, and it is difficult to know how much force is applied with aligners. In complex cases, according to Dr Nanda, aligner treatment requires the use of TADs and auxiliaries. It is also important to identify the length of time needed for certain types of movements.

Dr Nanda asserted that aligner systems are effectively the same, since all aligner manufacturers use the same material and exploit the same type of tooth movement. According to Dr Nanda, many companies do not perform the research for their product, universities do, and practitioners too often follow the company’s recommendations without the requisite basic information. He feels that orthodontists should decide on treatment plans rather than accept company treatment plans blindly. Therefore, it is necessary to look for evidence-based data from research before adopting any system or treatment plan.

Another highlight was Dr Nikhilesh Vaid’s paper on orthodontic care driven by AI. Dr Vaid does not believe that AI is a magic pill. He cited a study comparing DentalMonitoring and conventional monitoring of clear aligner therapy in terms of treatment efficiency and patient experience that found no clinically significant differences between the groups. He asked whether we know enough about the ethical principles of the use of AI and to consider the warning of its “profound risks to society and humanity”, as asserted in an open letter signed by hundreds of the best known names in technology, including Elon Musk.

In the poster competition at the congress, first place went to Dr Tarek Elshazly et al. for their poster titled “Experimental and numerical study of the effect of trimming line design on force generation by orthodontic aligners”.

Established in order to promote clinical excellence, EAS’s European Board of Aligner Orthodontics (EBAO) nominated four honorary members to EAS and the EBAO: Dr Robert Boyd, the first to introduce new technology for aligners; Dr Giovan Battista Garino, the first to introduce cases treated with aligner orthodontics to the Angle Society of Europe; Dr Giuseppe Siciliani, a former director of the University of Ferrara in Italy, the first European school to introduce aligner orthodontics to the curriculum for residents; and Dr Ravindra Nanda for his pursuit of advancing orthodontics. The 15 clinicians who passed the EBAO examination were awarded the EBAO’s first clinical excellence certificates.

The congress ended with a riverside party. During the three hours of eating, music and dancing, participants could enjoy themselves and interact with each other as well as the congress speakers.

The fifth EAS congress will take place in Valencia in Spain on 1 and 2 March 2024.

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